Vandals picked on wrong guy
By Ferd Lewis
Truth be told, last night's University of Hawai'i-Idaho men's basketball game was probably decided during the summer — about the time it was fatefully put on the Western Athletic Conference schedule.
But what some of the out-manned Vandals did when they got to the Stan Sheriff Center in their first visit certainly didn't help matters, either.
For that is where they proceeded, in ill-timed word and ill-advised deed, to light a fire under Julian Sensley, who in turn ignited the Rainbow Warriors' 81-61 rout with six slam dunks.
It is where their mouths offered challenges their lack of height and depth couldn't back up when Sensley took them to heart and the ball forcefully to the hoop to help UH (11-8, 5-4 WAC) break a two-game losing streak.
Not since junior college, Sensley estimated, had he rattled more backboard supports and dunked on so many opponents on one night. But, then, maybe nobody had given him as much reason to, either.
More seasoned WAC opponents know that just as you don't tug on Superman's cape, you also don't call out Sensley. Especially on his home floor when he is itching to prove something.
Instead of letting sleeping forwards lie — and Sensley had, for him, some sonorous outings on the road — the verbal exchanges on the court last night brought out some of his best in a 22-point, seven-rebound, five-assist, three-steal performance punctuated with one-handed dunks.
Sensley, who termed the evening "a good bounce back for us coming off the two road losses," was the poster player illustration of that given the right motivation.
At one point, Sensley said 6-8 forward Mike Kale taunted him to, "shoot it, shoot it," whereupon Sensley did. "I said, 'I don't know if you know, but I lead this team in (shot) attempts,' " Sensley reminded.
The retort: "Yeah, but you don't make very many of them," only served to improve both Sensley's aim and his determination on a night when he made good on 10-of-14 shots — including 9 of 11 from 2-point range.
Noteable, too, was his selectivity of 3-point attempts, taking but three to match a season low. But the one he made would also be telling.
By the time Sensley put the finishing touches on his performance with his lone 3-pointer, the crowd of 4,213 had been assured free pizzas as part of a promotion that rewards ticket stub holders if the Warriors match or surpass nine 3-pointers in a game.
While the UH faithful were looking forward to their pizzas, the Vandals merely had a long plane ride on which to eat their words.
Said one of them, forward Desmond Nwoke: "I'm not in a good mood to talk right now."
Indeed, the Vandals had already said quite enough.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 525-8044.